Karachi's transport system... By F H Mughal
07 September, 2012
The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently developed the best cities ranking. The ranking was based on the Spatially Adjusted Livability Index, with indicators like stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure and spatial characteristics. Spatial characteristics, further, had indicators like sprawl, green spaces, natural assets, isolation, connectivity, cultural assets and pollution.
In a way, the new ranking is a modification of the EIU's earlier Livability Index. As can be seen, wide-ranging indicators were developed and 70 cities' performance was evaluated based on these indicators. The scores were set as one (best) and five (worst).
Natural assets means natural features (access to nature), and cultural assets means world heritage sites. Connectivity means reaching out to other cities of the world by plane. Isolation, in this ranking, has been defined as a lack of leisure opportunities and the possibilities of discovering different ways of life. Pollution was based on the ambient air quality, principally the parameter, particulate matter of size 10 micrometers.
Based on this ranking, Hong Kong got the number one rank. The ranks of some other cities were: Paris four, Tokyo 10, London 12, New York 16, Beijing 30, New Delhi 46, Bangkok 49, Mumbai 52, Tehran 61 and Harare 70.
In the best cities ranking, Karachi was ranked at 65, showing a poor performance of the city. On pollution, Karachi got the score of five (worst). None of the 70 cities ranked received this score. This should put the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency to shame. Karachi got the score of 2.7 for green spaces, 1.3 for sprawl, 3.0 for isolation and 3.8 for connectivity.
According to an Asian Development Bank publication (2004), in Karachi the water service coverage is only 58 percent, and about 30 percent of the water is lost through leakages. The 24-hour water availability is nil and only 50 percent of the population is connected to sewers. The report further says that the utility provides low consumer satisfaction.
Transportation and transport management in Karachi is poor. It is now a common sight in Karachi to see people sitting on the top of minibuses. No city in the world has such a pathetic transportation situation. It indicates that the Karachi Transportation Planning Agency is inefficient.
Another example of poor transportation is the number of motorcycles on Karachi streets. From 2000 to 2002, the annual increase in motorcycles was about 7,000. In 2003 the annual increase was 13,000. The figure in 2004 was 41,000, increasing to 65,000 in 2005. In 2007 the annual increase in motorcycles was 110,000, and in 2011 it jumped to 160,000.
If one drives down Shahrah-e-Faisal at moderate speed, one would find motorcycles like bees passing by.
The Transport Planning Agency in Karachi is not efficient enough to respond to transportation needs, and the people are left on their own. For convenient movement from one point to another, people have no choice but to go for bikes.
Had there been an efficient Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, this situation would have never occurred. Bangkok, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jakarta, Columbia, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Curitiba (Brazil), Brisbane, Stockholm, Cape Town (South Africa), Ottawa, Bogotá, etc, have BRT systems. About 142 cities have implemented BRT systems or priority bus corridors, serving more than 23 million passenger trips daily.
F H MUGHAL